USC Football: Lane Kiffin Under Deadline to Hire New Defensive Coordinator
UPDATE: According to multiple sources, former Cal DC Clancy Pendergast has been named the new USC Defensive Coordinator (h/t Rivals).
It is mid-January and Lane Kiffin, Pat Haden, et al. have yet to name a new defensive coordinator for the Trojans.
Or is it, no one is accepting their offers?
It is hard to know and a sticky situation. After all, who would want to come in to a likely limited role under an embattled coach that should be out on his keister within the next two seasons if not sooner.
That makes the defensive coordinator position on the Trojan coaching staff a particularly hard one to fill. First, the poor soul would have to work under Lane Kiffin. Second, any potential DC has to be thinking that this gig is a two-year one at best. After all, if Kiffin is ousted it is more than likely that most, if not all of the coaching staff would be as well.
But time is running out for the Trojans and Lane Kiffin’s chances at salvaging a top recruiting class. With five recent decomitts and six defensive recruits visiting USC this week, Kiffin needs to step up and make a decision—or Pat Haden needs to force him to.
It has been more than a month since Monte Kiffin announced his resignation and nearly three weeks since his final game as a member of the Trojan coaching staff. Lane Kiffin was vocal about his choice to wait until after the Sun Bowl to choose a replacement but here we are 16 days later and still no Trojan defensive coordinator.
This is concerning for many reasons, the most important being all those top defensive recruits making official visits to a program with no one to run the defense.
It’s enough to make Trojan fans bang their heads against their desks in frustration. It feels so far removed from the glory days of Pete Carroll right now—in fact, that whole era feels like a fantasy.
Kiffin has had PLENTY of time to get a new DC in place so that recruits would be able to meet the man that will effectively shape their collegiate careers and prepare them for the NFL. But could he manage to accomplish that? Barring any announcements in the next day or two it certainly does not seem likely.
USC is set to welcome nine recruits to Troy on January 17, including, as mentioned, six defensive players. These defensive players are absolutely critical not just to the 2013 recruiting class, but to the team as a whole next season.
Recruits making the trip to USC this week (per ESPN) include the recently decommitted Eddie Vanderdoes, as well as current commits Jason Hatcher and Jalen Ramsey—both of whom are still being actively pursued by other programs. Three linebackers are also making the trip to USC this week—Michael Hutchings, Quinton Powell and Matthew Thomas.
Now, imagine you are a recruit making a visit to an elite program (historically, not currently). Wouldn’t the first question you would ask be about who your position coach was going to be? Wouldn’t you want to know if he runs the Cover-2 or a 4-3 or a 3-4? Wouldn’t a lack of a defensive coordinator this late in the recruiting season be a huge red flag?
After all, it’s not like Lane Kiffin has the best coaching reputation. If it were my kid, I’d have reservations about him committing to a Kiffin run program with no defensive coordinator in place.
It is past time for Lane Kiffin to choose and announce a new Trojan defensive coordinator.
In typical Lane Kiffin fashion, there has been very little news to come out of USC regarding the search for a defensive coordinator. Kiffin has gone on record as saying he wants a DC who has not just experience, but also success defending the spread—a wise choice given the current makeup of Pac-12 offenses.
Clancy Pendergast out of Cal has been rumored to be a contender for the job as has Oregon State’s Mark Banker, Oregon’s Nick Aliotti (never all that likely, but considerably less so with Chip Kelly staying put in Eugene) and former USC coaching staff member Joe Barry of the San Diego Chargers.
Pendergast typically runs a 3-4 defense, while USC is better known for its 4-3 defense, putting current players and recruits in a difficult situation. Kiffin has been on record as saying he is evaluating all parts of the Trojan program, and that includes a potential defensive scheme change.
Banker spent 1996 at USC, where he first worked with Mike Riley. He has been at Oregon State for 10 years and with Riley for 15 of the last 16.
Joe Barry has a lot of support, both from the fanbase as well as the administration as a former coach. Barry was exceptionally popular amongst his players and would be a welcome re-addition to the USC staff.
It is unbelievable that Kiffin would let the opportunity to get a new defensive coordinator in place before the big recruiting visits pass by. Let’s hope we have big news in the next 24 hours about who will be in charge of the Trojans' defense for 2013.
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